Foreign companies threaten Nigeria’s tech startups – ATCON

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The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) over the weekend declared that small and medium ICT companies in Nigeria are struggling to survive. According to the association, many of them will die if they are not adequately protected.

According to the the President of ATCON, Lanre Ajayi, many small and medium enterprises in the ICT industry had gone under in the past years. He added that threats to the surviving ones might eventually lead to their death if nothing was done.

According to him, ATCON had to rise to the occasion and the only way to address those challenges is to push for a strong policy and stronger regulation for the industry.

Ajayi said: “Many companies are having challenges; even the big ones. Everybody is expressing concern that the environment is becoming volatile. There is unfair competition from foreign players which is unfavourable to the indigenous small ICT companies.”

He described situations where big operators who offer wholesale services are also competing with the small and medium operators at the retail level. He gave an instance of some cable companies that sold bandwidths to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and at the same time were selling megabytes directly to consumers.

According to him, the cable companies even sell at prices at which retailers cannot compete.

The ATCON President said that these small and medium indigenous ICT companies were the ones providing jobs and adding value to the economy, hence, the government must ensure their protection.

He called for a level playing field for local and foreign companies in the industry to survive.

“While ATCON is not against foreign players coming to the industry, the government must put in place policies that would ensure their operations do not strangulate local operators,” he said.

[Image – CC Bryan Mills]